So, Sagna's set to sign for City? That's so…

I’ll resist the alliteration and rhyme that the question begged me to answer with. Suffice it to say that the answer ain’t “sitty” but something quite close. Depending on who you believe, Sagna has already agreed terms with with Man City or is still entertaining offers. It’s hard to resist the sinking sensation that Sagna, one way or another, has played his last match at the Emirates, for one, and may have even played his last match for Arsenal, period. That last bit might be more of a bold statement, what with two matches remaining, but if neither the club nor the player are willing to compromise, there’s little left in it but to let him go. If this means we see a third former Gunner at the Etihad, well, so be it.

So much for ‘hatred’, I guess…

Don’t get me wrong. On a sentimental level, it would hurt to see him go. After all, I did just wax nostalgic on the virtues of loyalty and devoting one’s career to one club the other day. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff, I’ll admit. Sagna’s been with Arsenal longer than most players, save Walcott, Diaby and Rosicky, and has been a bedrock in defense for the duration. To see him go would be a sad day; to see leave him leave on a Bosman to a league-rival would be a slap in the face.

The claim is that he’s unhappy with the terms Arsenal have offered, and that makes sense. He’s been loyal, he’s been dependable, he’s done what he’s been asked. At some level (again, largely sentimental), he has a right to expect some kind of pay-out, which is something I’ve suggested in the past, and our robust financial health might encourage him to believe that we’re capable of rising to those expectations. However, as we’ve learned time and again, sentiment plays a small, small role in these talks. At the risk of sounding callous, if sentiment is supposed to motivate the club to offer a richer payout, shouldn’t sentiment also suggest to Sagan that he sympathize with the club that’s supported him for so long? I’m not asking that Sagna accept a low offer out of loyalty, compassion, or any other touchy-feely factors, but it’s hard to believe that we’re so far apart that he’d leave on a free. Not to City.

While we’re on the subject of feelings, I guess that a move to Man City won’t be the least bit awkward even if Sagna will be there as support and competition for Pablo Zabaleta, a man whose insults “pushed me to the limit”, as Sagna put it, adding that he “felt hatred” towards the Argentinian. Time heals all wounds, I’m sure, but it raises the larger question of why Sagna, by all accounts Arsenal’s first-choice right-back to the point that a loan was considered for Jenkinson, would go to City, where he’d be a back-up to Zabaleta. If the insults Zabaleta aimed at him were enough to inspire hatred deep enough to get sent off, pride might motivate Sagna to consider what he’s signing on for.

Enough of the touchy-feely. Strategically, losing Sagna would be tough, but not as tough as we might worry. Jenkinson and Bellerin are not yet ready for full first-team action, of course, and we’ll need a more-seasoned replacement. However, that was true if less obvious a few weeks ago. At 31, Sagna has shown worrying signs that he’s (a) no longer able to or (b) no longer willing to get forward and track back. Time and time again, he’s been guilty of failing to get back on defense, whether it was a quick counter-attack or even a slower build-up, and we’ve been exposed and conceded goals as a result. On the whole, Sagna has probably prevented more goals than he’s invited in this way, and even if the issue has been willingness rather than ability, it’s starting to sound like he’s less and less willing to put in that effort. If we did convince him to stay, how are we to know that the attitude will change? Staying, after all, would require him at some level to forego at least some of what he’s demanding in pay or length of contract, and that’s likely to erode effort rather than inspire it. We depend on our wide defenders to get forward and get back, and if Sagna’s not committed to (or no longer capable of) doing that, well, it might just be time to part ways anyway.

So why Man City? From Sagna’s point of view, of course, the answer is loud and clear. An increased chance at silverware, not to mention they can afford to pay him just about anything. Kind of. With UEFA ready to sanction the club for violating FFP, they’re going to have to mind their pounds and quid just a bit more. No, the £50m fine is not going to have any impact on their dealings. Sheikh Mansour could probably fumble around in the back of a junk-drawer to scrounge up that amount. The more-serious consideration might come through a Champions League squad-reduction. UEFA is considering reducing City’s squad from 25 to as low as 21 or even 18. That, combined with UEFA’s homegrown players rule, which requires that at least eight eligible players to have trained domestically (not with their current club, just domestically)  for three years between the ages of 15 and 21, could seriously limit Man City’s options in the Champions League. Sagna would be ineligible to play, as would other defenders like Zabaleta, Nastasic, Demichelis, Boyata, Kolarov, and Kompany. In fact, the only defenders in the City squad who would still be eligible would be Lescott and Richards. The homegrown players rule applies to the entire squad, and Man City could find its six other eligible players elsewhere in the roster: Joe Hart. James Milner. Richard Wright. Jack Rodwell. That’s six, meaning Man City would need two more call-ups or signings, and these would have to meet that homegrown players rule.

Heck, while we’re on the subject of unhappy right-backs, does anyone fancy a go at Richards? He’s already unhappy and out of favor, having made only five appearances all season, and he’d have to feel like the arrival of Sagna would cut the number in half, if not more (let’s call it 60% to keep the math clean).

I’d be sad to see Sagna go, whether it’s to City, PSG, Fener, or wherever it is he’d end up. Despite my old-fashioned, soft-in-the-head ideals around loyalty, there’s little we can do to prevent it. If Sunday’s win over West Brom was his swan-song, it at least ends on a high-note, whether it was Bac’s performance or Elias’s goal.

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11 thoughts on “So, Sagna's set to sign for City? That's so…

  1. Anonymous

    haa ha bitter bitter pleb – Zabba is Argentinian for starters and secondly City will enable Sagna to win some silverware before his time is up

  2. Anonymous

    Article typifies Gunner mentality underpay the players, overpay the bosses, who achieve very little! When aforementioned player decides to leave, pretend he is past his sell by date, Arsenal need to get sensible about this issue.

  3. Anonymous

    @Matt, It says up there “The Argentinian”, in reference to Zabaletta. It's alright, though. You take Sagna, and by the end of next season his legs will be gone, and City will have another David Seaman situation on their hands. Zabaletta is apparently returning to Italy this summer, and Micah Richards has refused a new contract. On the other hand, if we bring in a new RB and put Jenkinson out on loan to Newcastle (as apparently they want him on loan), we have someone as good or better than Sagna (such as Aurier and Coleman who are much better going forward), Hector Bellerin will get time with the first team and Jenkinson can mature in the premier league. It all works out. They can have Sagna and pay him his 100k a week, but they'll dump him into the French league 2 if he breaks his leg again, and he'll realise the mistake he made. Another funny thing, Sagna isn't allowed to negotiate with other clubs until after the final match of Arsenal's season, i.e., the 17th of May. So the claims have to be bullshit, or he's being tapped up. Cheerio.

  4. Anonymous

    Yeah, it'd be nice to afford to pay an aging defender 100k a week and I'd love to keep him but it's hard to see the sense of trying to compete with City financially…no reason to think they wouldn't simply offer 120k if we upped our offer. I suspect he just wants to move on rather than wants the money, with money being a good reason to refuse rather than anything else.Pretty sure Zabaleta will move to left back and Sagna would play RB as first choice.Also, he's not 'past his sell by date' he's just too much of a risk, I understand that City fans (and a lot of fans in general, I guess) have become unable to understand the notion of financial risk but it's what happens when you can't just throw a barrel of money at whoever you want and simply shrug if you make a huge loss or they rarely play.

  5. Anonymous

    I don't think there is any tapping up these days as it's just the accepted way of doing things, money and agents are in control rather than clubs, everyone knows what they can get elsewhere so it's a lot easier to play people and always take the highest offer.

  6. Anonymous

    i really wish we could keep him, it doesn't seem like it would cost too much. 100k/week would fit without breaking the bank, wouldn't it? he's been of the best rightbacks in the Prem before he broke his leg but he's still our best rightback. i'm not saying give him what he wants but surely there's some room for each side to give!

  7. Anonymous

    I don't think it's tapping up necessarily. We all know that stories of Sagna leaving have been making the rounds for weeks, may be months. Players regularly agree to contracts verbally before the end of the season, so I wouldn't be surprised if agents on both sides have figured things out and are just waiting until 18 May to make if official. I wonder if us winning the FA Cup might change Sagna's mind to convince him to stay? After all, we're set to be stronger next season than we were this season…


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